While trying out Anthem, I had to keep reminding myself that I was playing a BioWare game. It’s the first new IP from the veteran RPG developer in a decade, and although it falls into that particular style of role-playing and shooter hybrid the studio honed with Jade Empire and the Mass Effect franchises, this is the hardest it has leaned into the gameplay style. With the Anthem, we’re seeing a major shift in what BioWare is capable of with its. Although it still exhibits some of the studio’s role-playing pedigree, it’s the vast online open-world that distinguishes its newest project.
During a hands-on session at EA Play, we got to check out one of Anthem’s missions while getting a feel for the Javelin exo-suits and their unique powers. Focusing on the adventures of numerous Freelancers on a hostile alien planet, they’ll tackle story missions and side-events, facing off against some of the world’s fiercest creatures.
In the vein of Bungie’s Destiny and Ubisoft’s The Division, Anthem is a shared-world online shooter focusing on groups of players taking on new challenges and acquiring new loot. But in familiar BioWare fashion, your particular Freelancer will make important choices throughout the game’s main campaign, altering their relationships with allies and other factions. While this sounds pretty standard, this is all housed within the space of an online world where other players are making similar or conflicting choices in their own story.
As of now, we only know what the story is about in the broad sense: humans on a hostile alien planet, a powerful ancient presence of some form, and major world-altering events. While BioWare wasn’t ready to share just how those choices will be reflected in the game for others to see, it did say they’ll be surfaced in some form. With that said, the general narrative feels much more of a nebulous concept, and I am intrigued to see how the developer will be able to inject that familiar BioWare-style storytelling into Anthem. The shift to an online shooter does showcase the game’s main focus, marking a major change from the studio’s past games.
In our demo, we played the Scars and Villainy mission, which took the Freelancers on an operation to take out an ancient weapon: a Relic held by the imposing Scar forces–one of the many groups on the planet fighting for control. While this mission was shown during the EA Play press conference, we saw an extended version of it, exploring some of the surrounding areas and fighting against the Swarm Tyrant boss. Though it’s usually difficult to get a sense of the game’s scale from standard vertical slice demos, as they aim to show a little bit of everything, I was impressed with the sense of scale and verticality found in Anthem–which felt particularly fresh for a BioWare game.
Anthem – Official Cinematic Trailer | E3 2018
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